A few months ago, President-elect Donald Trump identified Forrest Lucas as a possible consideration for Secretary of the Interior — a position that is responsible for protecting the nation's natural land resources.
What is it exactly that makes Lucas qualified for this position? That is a very good question.
Forrest Lucas is founder of Lucas Oil Products (a manufacturer of lubricants and fuel and oil additives), sponsor of the Touring Pro Division of the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. and several national cow and horse events and owner of tracks located in California, Missouri and Indianapolis, as well as the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.
Lucas created Protect the Harvest, an innocuous-sounding group with its own super PAC that animals rights activists consider the most aggressive and best-funded anti-animal advocacy group. Established in 2010 with an initial investment of more than $600,000, Protect the Harvest targets policy makers and activists who stand up for animal rights, welfare and protections. And Protect the Harvest's biggest target is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Protect the Harvest claims that the HSUS is an "attack group determined to end the consumption of meat, threaten consumer access to affordable food, eliminate hunting, outlaw rodeos and circuses and even ban animal ownership (including pets) altogether." Lucas has called HSUS a radical group attempting to pass laws and regulations that would restrict the rights and freedoms of farmers and sportsmen.
In response, the HSUS says that Protect the Harvest has "fought nearly every common-sense animal welfare law in recent years" and claims the attacks on HSUS are Lucas' way of maintaining the status quo for big agribusiness and abusive industries. In a pointed dig, the HSUS goes on to assert that "Protect the Harvest apparently means protecting puppy mills, factory farms and cruelty to companion animals."
Citing an estimated personal net worth of $300 million and annual company revenue of $150 million, Humane Society Legislative Fund president Mike Markarian calls Lucas "perhaps the biggest pro-animal-abuse money man in America."
In 2010, Lucas spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to bankroll the opposition to Proposition B in Missouri, in which voters approved to set common-sense standards for the care of dogs in large-scale commercial breeding operations. According to Barnett, of the $700,000 donated to fight Prop B, $400,000 came from Lucas.
In 2013, Protect the Harvest lobbied against a local ordinance in Harrison County, Indiana, to promote the spaying and neutering of pets and help reduce pet overpopulation, and in Crawford County, Indiana, to require adequate shelter for dogs and cats that would protect them from the elements.
Most recently, Lucas has thrown his support behind Question 1 on the Indiana ballot, the Right to Hunt and Fish amendment.
It was his fight in Missouri against Prop B that sparked his idea for initiating a proactive defense against animal rights groups in order to be better prepared to fight legislation that offered any kind of rights or protections to animals.
"When I saw during that time that almost nobody else is fighting these guys — that almost everyone is scared of them. I said, 'We are going to go on the offense. We need a name. We need a website. We need an organization,'" said Lucas in an interview with Today's Farmer magazine.
The HSUS works with family farmers who use humane and sustainable animal welfare practices and who speak out against inhumane factory farm abuses such as the extreme confinement of animals in crates and cages where they can barely move an inch for their entire lives.
But Lucas, who considers concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) a "rural way of life," says "leftist organizations" such as HSUS and PETA lie about animal rights, calling them extremists and terrorists.
"I have yet to see anything come from them that was not a lie," he told Quarter Horse News. "They've got everybody scared to death. When they come out and scare somebody into something that they wouldn't normally do, that's being terrorized."